The Trump administration’s immigration policy looks more and more like a play written by some sadistic playwright.
The Army and the Department of Homeland Security are rushing to build a detention facility for immigrant families in Fort Bliss, Texas—a base infamous for its toxic spills and storage of chemical poisons and unexploded munitions, according to documents obtained by Earthjustice through the Freedom of Information Act.
The base houses four Superfund sites, which are contaminated by heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and radioactive materials. Exposure to these toxins can cause cancer, neurological damage, and developmental disorders. Who would come up with the idea of detaining families with young children in such a dreadful place?
Meet Stephen Miller, Donald Trump’s senior immigration advisor, the architect of the “zero tolerance” policy and, according to leaked emails, a white nationalist who detests the Latino and African American communities.
The documents leaked to the Southern Poverty Law Center contain 900 emails between Miller, who is Jewish, and the white nationalist website Breitbart News during his period as a senior advisor to the Trump campaign in 2016. In those, Miller promotes white nationalist conspiracy theories and supports anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim narratives.
His own uncle, David S. Glosser, rejects his nephew’s immigration hardline and publicly reminds him that his Jewish family escaped persecution or worse in Europe thanks to the very generosity he is now denying to other people in very similar situations.
The consequences of this cruel and racist mentality are heartbreaking. An investigation by the Associated Press and PBS revealed that this year, the Trump administration has detained nearly 70,000 immigrant kids, causing irreversible psychological damage to many of them.
The report focuses on a three-year-old Honduran girl who arrived at the border in the arms of her father, who then applied for asylum. It adds that after being forcefully separated from him, suffering sexual abuse while in the custody of federal officials, and being deported and returned to Honduras, the child now suffers profound depression and accuses her father of abandoning her.
AP reporter Frank Bajak tweeted about his colleagues’ work saying, “No other country held as many immigrant children in detention over the past year as the United States—69,550. The physical and emotional scars are profound.”
This national disgrace is being conducted on behalf of the whole country—in front of the astounded eyes of the rest of the civilized world—as openly as the administration’s scheming efforts to build the wall.
The company Fisher Land & Gravel got a $400-million contract to build part of the wall after Trump personally and repeatedly recommended that they obtain it. The Army Corps of Engineers—the entity in charge of granting the contracts—had rejected Fisher’s proposal, ruling it did not meet standards.
Fisher’s dubious contract, which has already triggered calls for investigation in Congress, stipulates the construction of 31 miles of new barriers in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona, which would exacerbate even further the catastrophic and irreparable damages this racist project has already inflicted on the borderlands.
Whether these structures are new or reinforcements of existing ones, the level of devastation is staggering, causing flooding and erosion, blocking migration routes of endangered species, and destroying landscapes that for millennia have harbored some of the richest habitats in North America.
When hatred and corruption partner to dictate a nation’s immigration policy, the result can exceed the imagination of the cruelest playwright.
Javier Sierra es un columnista del Sierra Club. Sígalo en Twitter @javier_SC
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